Will Byrnes's Reviews > Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
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Feb 19, 09

bookshelves: non-fiction, biography-autobiography-memoir
Read in February, 2009

Burroughs offers a book that is supposedly a memoir. If so, then truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Let’s say I am skeptical. If you thought you had a tough adolescence a look at Burroughs’ tale will put your experience into a little perspective.

He grew up in western Massachusetts to a mother who was probably bi-polar, in what seems like ground zero for inappropriate behavior. She was seeing a peculiar psychiatrist who had a fondness for having patients come to live at his home, a chaotic household that was a combination of You Can’t Take it With You and the Addams Family. Augusten’s mother, unable to cope, essentially gives her son to the shrink. That Augusten was gay adds even more color to this. That he engages in an affair, as a thirteen-year-old, with one of the shrink’s adopted children, a man in his thirties, makes that a dark color indeed.

While one may feel some sympathy for the author, who had difficulties in school, who was very much a free spirit, who had a pretty awful family, and had to cope with the ostracism and hostility engendered by his sexual inclination, he does not seem like a person I would want to know. Maybe as an adult he grew out of some of the more destructive behavior depicted here.

One does not have to like the author, or his character in a book, to appreciate the work itself. It is an engaging, fast read and I was drawn in for the duration. While Running With Scissors may be tough to swallow as pure, fact-based memoir, I found that treating it as if it were labeled “a novel” made it all go down a little easier.
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